Jets plotting course for home ice advantage in playoffs; by Geoff Brookes

The Captain, Blake Wheeler, leading the way!!

HKN Jets Oilers 20160930

(C) Geoff Brookes 

Last summer, I predicted that the Winnipeg Jets would finish second to Nashville in the Central Division, with 105 points:
After watching the Jets blowout 2 teams this past weekend, It makes you wonder if the Jets can hold on to take first place in the Central Division , despite the Predators having 2 games in hand.
The problem is that the Predators have 8 games left against the league’s weaker teams. Although the Jets can help their cause with wins in the 3 games that remain against the Predators (2 are at Bell MTS Place), the Jets would also need the Preds to drop a few games down the stretch. While it’s possible, it doesn’t seem likely. The Jets would need some help from the Buffalo’s and the Arizona’s of the NHL.
Next best on the wish list is for the Jets to have home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. This is something that is clearly within reach for the Jets. They have a 7 point lead over their nearest Central division rival, with roughly even games played. The Jets face a lot of good teams through the end of March, including a 6 game Eastern road trip, but they have 4 of the last 6 games of the season against non-playoff teams. How big were those 4 early season victories against the Stars and the Wild!
Buff signing 1
Chuck is hearing rumours that Lowry’s injury could take him out of action indefinitely. This is a really unfortunate loss for the team, with Lowry maturing into a terrific shutdown centre. In my opinion (and I know Chuck agrees), this really forces the Jets hand, to acquire depth at Centre for the stretch run and the playoffs. See my trade deadline blog here:
How about Tomas Plekanic, as a depth centre for the Jets? He’s a “rental player” on an expiring contract, which helps on the money side of things. It would also intrigue me if the Jets could somehow make the salary cap work for acquiring either Pacioretty or Grabner, on left wing. I want to see the Jets go “all in” for the Cup this year!
Enhancing depth at centre is a “need”, not a “want”, for a playoff run. As good as Wheeler was filling in at centre, the Jets are clearly better with Scheifele, Wheeler and Connor together on the top line.
Connor is emerging as a great compliment to Scheifele and Wheeler, adding speed and forechecking to his resume, along with a knack for finding that open space to take superb passes from “Wheels”. Connor had 2 sniper goals last night, putting him over 20 goals so far in his rookie season!
It sounds like both Mason and Hutchinson are slowly but safely making their way through the concussion protocols, including recent skates on consecutive days. They are about to start facing shots in practice. So the Jets depth at goal might be replenished without having to make a trade at that position.
Speaking of goalies – Sunday’s game illustrates the massive impact that goaltending has on a hockey game.
Midway through the second period, with the game tied at 2, Florida had a rare 2 on 1 rush after a missed attempt at a hit near the Jets blue line. The play went according to script. Hellebuyck played the shooter while the remaining Jets D-man played the pass. But the pass got through, resulting in a glorious scoring chance for the Panthers.
Hellebuyck was not cheating toward the Panther forward in the slot. In fact, he was almost hugging the near post when the pass was launched.
What happened next will be one of those plays that gets shown time and time again on highlight reels.
In perfect form, “Bucky” pushed off the near post, extending his left pad and glove toward the far post, suddenly covering a vast area that had been open net just a moment before. The shot was high to the far side, maybe 2 feet inside the post. Bucky gloved it for a spectacular save!
Wheeler later commented that this was a big momentum swing in the game. “There are saves that you expect your goalie to make. That wasn’t one of them.”
By contrast, Florida’s goalie, Manitoba-born James Reimer, had a forgettable night. He started well, but had some tough goals, with pucks being deflected and falling loose behind him. As the game wore on, the Jets playmaking and shooting seemed to overwhelm him.
Connor-Hellebuyck
The toughest moment for Reimer was not a goal by the Jets, but a great rush by big Buff. As Byfuglien made the shot, he appeared to make the routine move of swinging his big body behind Reimer and the Florida net. Reimer had moved to the top edge of his crease to make the save. As Buff skated around Reimer, some part of Byfuglien’s body appeared to make a glancing contact with Reimer’s head. This is debatable from the replays, but it wasn’t full on contact, in any case.
Reimer froze in position for a moment, and then (a second later) did his best imitation of a European soccer player, simultaneously convulsing in agony, while tumbling backwards like a bowling pin on the back corner of a strike. Within seconds, Twitter was full of acidic takes, while Bell MTS Place erupted with jeers and taunts.
The game just kept getting worse for Reimer, as the Jets piled on with one beautiful goal after another. By the midpoint of the third period, they were playing the polkas during the commercial breaks, and the party was on!
After a couple of shaky losses, it was a relief for Jets fans to enjoy a few big wins this past week. If the Jets can keep up this recent momentum, this could be one of the most memorable Jets seasons ever!
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Jets plotting course for home ice advantage in playoffs; by Geoff Brookes

The Captain, Blake Wheeler, leading the way!!

HKN Jets Oilers 20160930

(C) Geoff Brookes 

Last summer, I predicted that the Winnipeg Jets would finish second to Nashville in the Central Division, with 105 points:
After watching the Jets blowout 2 teams this past weekend, It makes you wonder if the Jets can hold on to take first place in the Central Division , despite the Predators having 2 games in hand.
The problem is that the Predators have 8 games left against the league’s weaker teams. Although the Jets can help their cause with wins in the 3 games that remain against the Predators (2 are at Bell MTS Place), the Jets would also need the Preds to drop a few games down the stretch. While it’s possible, it doesn’t seem likely. The Jets would need some help from the Buffalo’s and the Arizona’s of the NHL.
Next best on the wish list is for the Jets to have home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. This is something that is clearly within reach for the Jets. They have a 7 point lead over their nearest Central division rival, with roughly even games played. The Jets face a lot of good teams through the end of March, including a 6 game Eastern road trip, but they have 4 of the last 6 games of the season against non-playoff teams. How big were those 4 early season victories against the Stars and the Wild!
Buff signing 1
Chuck is hearing rumours that Lowry’s injury could take him out of action indefinitely. This is a really unfortunate loss for the team, with Lowry maturing into a terrific shutdown centre. In my opinion (and I know Chuck agrees), this really forces the Jets hand, to acquire depth at Centre for the stretch run and the playoffs. See my trade deadline blog here:
How about Tomas Plekanic, as a depth centre for the Jets? He’s a “rental player” on an expiring contract, which helps on the money side of things. It would also intrigue me if the Jets could somehow make the salary cap work for acquiring either Pacioretty or Grabner, on left wing. I want to see the Jets go “all in” for the Cup this year!
Enhancing depth at centre is a “need”, not a “want”, for a playoff run. As good as Wheeler was filling in at centre, the Jets are clearly better with Scheifele, Wheeler and Connor together on the top line.
Connor is emerging as a great compliment to Scheifele and Wheeler, adding speed and forechecking to his resume, along with a knack for finding that open space to take superb passes from “Wheels”. Connor had 2 sniper goals last night, putting him over 20 goals so far in his rookie season!
It sounds like both Mason and Hutchinson are slowly but safely making their way through the concussion protocols, including recent skates on consecutive days. They are about to start facing shots in practice. So the Jets depth at goal might be replenished without having to make a trade at that position.
Speaking of goalies – Sunday’s game illustrates the massive impact that goaltending has on a hockey game.
Midway through the second period, with the game tied at 2, Florida had a rare 2 on 1 rush after a missed attempt at a hit near the Jets blue line. The play went according to script. Hellebuyck played the shooter while the remaining Jets D-man played the pass. But the pass got through, resulting in a glorious scoring chance for the Panthers.
Hellebuyck was not cheating toward the Panther forward in the slot. In fact, he was almost hugging the near post when the pass was launched.
What happened next will be one of those plays that gets shown time and time again on highlight reels.
In perfect form, “Bucky” pushed off the near post, extending his left pad and glove toward the far post, suddenly covering a vast area that had been open net just a moment before. The shot was high to the far side, maybe 2 feet inside the post. Bucky gloved it for a spectacular save!
Wheeler later commented that this was a big momentum swing in the game. “There are saves that you expect your goalie to make. That wasn’t one of them.”
By contrast, Florida’s goalie, Manitoba-born James Reimer, had a forgettable night. He started well, but had some tough goals, with pucks being deflected and falling loose behind him. As the game wore on, the Jets playmaking and shooting seemed to overwhelm him.
Connor-Hellebuyck
The toughest moment for Reimer was not a goal by the Jets, but a great rush by big Buff. As Byfuglien made the shot, he appeared to make the routine move of swinging his big body behind Reimer and the Florida net. Reimer had moved to the top edge of his crease to make the save. As Buff skated around Reimer, some part of Byfuglien’s body appeared to make a glancing contact with Reimer’s head. This is debatable from the replays, but it wasn’t full on contact, in any case.
Reimer froze in position for a moment, and then (a second later) did his best imitation of a European soccer player, simultaneously convulsing in agony, while tumbling backwards like a bowling pin on the back corner of a strike. Within seconds, Twitter was full of acidic takes, while Bell MTS Place erupted with jeers and taunts.
The game just kept getting worse for Reimer, as the Jets piled on with one beautiful goal after another. By the midpoint of the third period, they were playing the polkas during the commercial breaks, and the party was on!
After a couple of shaky losses, it was a relief for Jets fans to enjoy a few big wins this past week. If the Jets can keep up this recent momentum, this could be one of the most memorable Jets seasons ever!

 

Erin…till our paths cross again; by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

Saying goodbye to someone i care about has always been difficult.  I went to sleep last night thinking I couldn’t say goodbye to Erin on Sunday morning.  She is such a beautiful, spiritual soul…and we had  connected on such a deep level.  How could I say goodbye knowing our paths may never cross again.

Last Thursday morning, fate brought us together while lying by the pool here in Puerto Vallarta.  It seemed like an instant spiritual connection…morals, beliefs, compassion, all so very similar.  Her ‘hippie” spirit immediately captured me and I was smitten in a kind, respectful way.  Knowing that she has a partner back home allowed me to just enjoy the kind, gentle soul which is Erin.

In a few brief days, she taught me so much about this journey called life.  Her words weren’t new, but coming from a spirit like hers, i internalized all she shared.  One of the first pieces of wisdom she shared was: “don’t worry about what other people think Chuck”; I’ve heard that a million times, but coming from her…it really got through my walls…walls I was letting down while talking to her,  We talked a lot about letting go, so that the goodness of life could shine through.  By last evening, when we shared a couple of beers and mojitos…my walls were down…not many people can do that…but Erin sure could.

That is how I spent my time with Erin…I lived each moment knowing that when she went home on Sunday morning that our paths would probably never meet again.  I soaked in our many long chats, grateful that I had met the kind of woman I’ve always wanted to share my life with.

Rather than being upset about never seeing her again, I celebrated the fact that for three and a half days, we shared our spirits and enjoyed the hot sun together.

We met for breakfast this morning and talked…and talked..she shared about her “book room”, her solitude where she voraciously reads books… and then…it was time for her to leave.  We hugged and said goodbye…and until the fates decide if we shall ever see each other again…I will cherish the time we had.

Thank you Erin…you were a gift that I will hold on to forever.  Now go home and take care of your doggies and that great guy you are with.

How cool is this: met a family from Finland who are huge Patrik Laine fans!! …by Chuck Duboff

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All the way from Finland,12 hour flight, to Puerto Vallarta…Big Laine and Jets fans!!

Janika Kirveennummi, Janos Kirveennummi, Niko Kirveennummi, Emmi Hakio, RittaKyytsonen, Nana Kirveennummi, AtteRimpilainen

© Chuck Duboff

They say this is a small world…well, I sure found that out this morning; a large group of people were sitting beside me at the pool deck…their accent sounded very familiar, so I asked where they are from.  Finland…well my ears perked up and we got right into Patrik Laine.  I shared pictures of Laine with them and told them what a big star he is in Winnipeg.  Of course they know how popular both Laine and Teemu are  in Winnipeg.  They are always hearing stories of what they are doing in the NHL.

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They were telling me all about what they do back home, from nurse, to contractor, students and a hockey player in the group; and it turns out the hockey player knows quite a bit about Jets #1 draft pick from 2017, Christian Vesalinen,,,says he’s  a really good player,,,knows that he’ll be playing for the Jets next season.

They were all super friendly; we exchanged cell phone numbers and we will be sharing pix and stories and this blog.  I always bring Jets stuff with me, so I gave the hat and t-shirt to these two awesome young people from Finland!

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It’s a very small world…and it was so great meeting this Finnish family; not just because they are Laine and Jets fans…more because it’s so cool meeting people from all over the world.

 

Erin…by Chuck Duboff

pool

@Chuck Duboff

After a long day of airports and flying yesterday, I got to enjoy Puerto Vallarta this morning.  Ran the beach, had a great workout in the gym and then it was down to the pool.  Despite the early morning cloud,, the sun broke through and it was a brilliant blue sky that I enjoyed while listening to my music!!

I went for a swim to cool off around 10:30 and came back to my lounging chair to bask in the sun.  A lovely woman had sat her self down by me and we exchanged a hello…she from Vancouver Island ,while I shared about our frozen home back in Winnipeg.

Why worry about what anybody else thinks!!”  Erin.

We ended up talking till after noon; turns out Erin is a psychiatric nurse, a woman who gives so very much to the people she helps.  Listening to her talk about the assistance she gives to those in crises …reminds me of an an angel.  Walking the streets helping the homeless, those going thru drug crises, it  is a reminder that there are selfless people in this world, who care  deeply about the well being of others

Every person comes into our lives for a reason Chuck”  Erin

I found myself sharing a lot with her…it felt very safe.  I talked with her about the depression I struggle with and she was very understanding and kind in her gentle words.  I explained that I share the story of my depression a lot easier today than I ever have.

That takes a lot of courage Chuck”  Erin

She told me about her partner who is a police officer back home and the two dogs that they enjoy together.  Even though they are from Vancouver, turns out her dad is a Habs fan and that as a kids they’d take the ferry across to Vancouver to see the Habs play the Canucks.  Of course I schooled her on the Jets…and our Winnipeger Neil Young!!

We had never known each other before this morning, yet sharing with each other was so very easy.  Her soul…so very kind and gentle.  Yes Erin, people do come into our lives for a reason…I’m glad we met this morning and got to have an authentic, talk.

I’m proud of you for all you do to help others Erin”  Chuck

You’ve got lots to share Chuck, keep writing your blog!!”Erin

You never know when an angel is going to appear in your life…and even if its just for an hour or two, be grateful for the moments and the lessons that were to be learned.

Thanks Erin…what a beautiful way to start these two weeks in Paradise.

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“Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey…” Leonard Cohen: Tower of Song

What a beautiful song by the Late Leonard Cohen

Chuck & Geoff's Eclectic Blog.

15032797_10154446962960783_7335977297680655149_n“Tower Of Song”

Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day
Oh in the Tower of Song
I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of SongI was born like this, I had no choice
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
And twenty-seven angels from the Great Beyond
They tied me to this table right here
In the Tower of Song

So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
I’m very sorry, baby, doesn’t look like me at all
I’m standing by the window where the light is strong
Ah they…

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Two weeks of hot sun, Sierra Madre Mountains, Pacific Ocean, beaches, tequila and…. by Chuck Duboff

 

© Chuck Duboff

As per any winter, this has been a long drawn out stretch of ice cold winds and brutal temperatures.  Having booked my winter trip early last summer, the thought of getting away has helped get through this bone chilling cold.

Puerto Vallarta has been my winter destination these past four years.  I had been going to Cuba, Cancun and Playa del Carmen for years…four years ago, my wonderful travel agent Maria encouraged me to give PV a try.  I don’t why I hadn’t tried it till then, but, I wouldn’t go anywhere else now.

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These past three years have seen nothing but hot sun, beautiful beaches, friendly people…and not a single cloud or drop of rain.  My mornings start off with a long run on the beaches and then a half hour work out in the gym…and from then on…it’s by the pool with my pal Jose refilling my agua, tequila and diet coke drinks.  By late afternoon I often chill for a few hours and write a blog or two….the evenings take on a life of their own…simply go with the flow and have a great time!!!

Jose

My pal Jose…who takes really good care of me.  Tequila por fa vor!!

So…here’s hoping I can stay in touch through this blog and share with you the goings on in Puerto Vallarta.

Henrik Lundqvist stymies Jets…is it too soon to be concerned? by Chuck Duboff

Lund1

© Chuck Duboff

That was one sensational goaltending performance by the King, Henrik Lundqvist.  After taking an early 1-0 lead, the Jets were shut down, time after time, by spectacular goaltending.  The Jets played a great first period, only to have Nic Ehlers make a “stupid pass” (Ehlers) which led to a tying goal for the Rangers.

That seemed to deflate the Jets, as they came out in the 2nd period and were dominated by the Blue Shirts.  The third period saw the Jets get back to back power plays, only to have The King make miraculous saves on both Scheifele and Laine; and with just under four minutes left, the Rangers Jimmey Vesey scored the go ahead goal.  With one minute left in the game, it appeared that the Jets had tied the game, only to have it overturned on replay because of a high stick on the deflection.  Michael Grabner scored into an empty net and for the first time this season, the Jets lost back to back home games.

Ehlers 2

Several observations on the Jets apparent struggles the last three games:

  • I am concerned that Conner Hellebucyk is going to bet burnt out; with the Jets not having a backup that they can count on, it would seem the team is going to run with Conner.  He allowed two 5 hole goals against Arizona and then again yesterday, the first goal trickled through his legs.  To me, this is a concern.
  • There is very little chemistry on any of the lines right now.  I would put Kyle Conner back with Scheif and Wheels; I’d put Perrault and Armia back with Matty Hendricks (a very dominant line early in the season)  I’d leave Little with Ehlers and Laine.
  • The third line is a major concern…the Jets are missing both Adam Lowry and Brandon Tanev.  The two of them bang and pressure the other team and that is missing right now.  When it’s Lowry, Tanev and Copp, that is a tremendous third line…but right now it would seem that Copp at centre is what we have…perhaps Roslovic and Petan with him…or Lemieux.
  • The Jets are missing Jacob Trouba!!  Thank you Captain Obvious…but his physical presence and quarterbacking the power play is greatly missed.
  • Given more ice time because of Trouba’s absence, Tyler Myers seems to be struggling.
  • Wheeler and Perrault need to start providing some offence…it can’t always be on the shoulders of Laine and Ehlers.
  • To quote Geoff’s brother Derek: “this could slip away really easily”  After being number one in the NHL and in first place in the Central Division for a long time…suddenly Nashville is pulling a way in the division and the Jets are hearing the feet of St. Louis, Dallas and Minnesota creeping up on them.
  • The games are getting more intense, almost a playoff style hockey; perhaps our young kids who are experiencing this style of hockey for the first time (Laine, Ehlers, Morrisey, Roslovic, Helleybucyk, Conner…) are feeling the pressure.
  • That is why I continue to say that the Jets have to pick up at least one, if not two, veterans to calm the locker room down.  One of the players said that while Hendricks was injured that the bench was really quiet…Hendy can’t do it by himself; Chevy needs to do something to help the kids out.
  • Jets have a tough one tomorrow night against Washington; it would be a great time to get their mojo back and start a new winning streak.

Should we be concerned?  I would say it’s not time to panic, but with so few games left, I would say that it is time for the team to bear down and kick it into another gear…this is almost playoff hockey..

This is what humanity is: Sir Nicholas Winton, the man who saved 669 children from certain death at the hands of the Nazis.

Chuck & Geoff's Eclectic Blog.

We know who Tom Brady and Angelina Jolie are…how many people know who SirNicholas Winton is?

© Chuck Duboff

In a world caught in the grips of Donald Trump’s presidency….in a world in which movie stars and athletes are paid millions of dollars to entertain…in a “me first world”…it is both humbling and a reminder to the citizens of the world, that putting the needs of others ahead of one’s self is what humanity truly is about.

NGW-Children09

When the ugliness of the Trump Presidency dominates the world stage, we are reminded of what true humanity is.  A British citizen, Sir Nicholas Winton, during the Second World War secretly saved the lives of 669 Jewish children by transporting them from Czechoslovakia to Great Britain and kept it to himself for over 50 years.  These lives were saved, and these children were given life, by one man, Sir Nicholas Winton.

Please…

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“It’s madness – and a moment of sadness for the country.” Dan Rather speaks out on the dizzying craziness of Trump’s White House.

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The Rob Porter wife beating scandal that has the White House under siege is a heat-seeking missile to the heart of many of President Trump’s biggest fears and vulnerabilities.

It reminds everyone that:
– Mr. Trump too has been credibly accused of assault (by multiple women).
– there have been several other people close to Trump accused of sexual and physical assault.
– there are dozens of people working in the White House without full security clearances (including his son in law).
– a chief of staff who was brought in to create order is now spreading chaos.
– Mr. Trump’s vow to bring in only the “best people” to work with him rings hollow, and the administration is having a tough time finding people to work in the White House.

Meanwhile the incredible cocoon of privilege and ego with which the President envelopes himself blinds him to the sheer horror of his statements in defense of Mr. Porter. He rails against the injustice of these “accusations” (this from a man who accused President Obama of being a foreigner). He talks about how “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation” but says nothing about the WOMEN victims. What about the lives of these women? Have they not been “shattered and destroyed”? And what about the lives of all of the women (and men) suffering in domestic violence situations?

Mr. Trump once again proves he is indifferent to the fate of anyone other than himself. This is a low for this country that is nothing about politics. We can debate tax cuts and immigration policy and how we fund education. We can disagree about the size of our military or the best balance for protecting the environment. That is democracy.

Debating whether credibly accused wife beaters should be allowed the honor (and that is what it is) to serve in the White House isn’t democracy. It’s madness – and a moment of sadness for the country.

This beach bum’s playlist…while lying around the pool and on the beach…in Puerto Vallarta…by Chuck Dubof

Chuck & Geoff's Eclectic Blog.

WEDNESDAY MORN, 6AM, PUERTO VALLARTA, HERE I COME!!!!

These six will get the most play while under the hot sun:

  • Neil Young…a lot!!!!  (Especially, Down by the River)
  • The Eagles….a lot!!!!  (Especially their Greatest Hits album)
  • The Alman Brothers…perfect hot weather music!!
  • Bob Marley, Maan….a lot!!!
  • Led Zeppelin…for hours on end!!  (Trippin out under the hot sun!!
  • The Doors…a lot, under those blue skies!!led-zeppelin-ii-1400175028
  • Queen
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • The Dave Matthews Band
    the doors
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Leonard Skynard
  • The Who
  • AC/DC
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Jimi HendrixVarious - 1967

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Scott Mortland, a San Diego sports fan, embraces our city..not only for our Bombers and Jets, but for all the friends he’s made up here…by Scott Mortland and Chuck Duboff

Since Thursday afternoon at 3:00, when this blog was posted, there have been 340 views…our San Diego friend, Scott Mortland, shares both his story and his love of the city of Winnipeg…enjoy the read.

Chuck & Geoff's Eclectic Blog.

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© Chuck Duboff

We as Winnipegers tend to have a very negative image of our city; it would seem that those who visit our city seem to have a greater appreciation for our hometown.  Recently Winnipeg Jets superstar Patrik Laine was quoted as saying that he loves our city, that “this is my city now”.  You could feel the sense of pride around the city knowing that this world class athlete has embraced us.

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Yet, he is not the only honorary Winnipeger to embrace our fair city.  Last year the citizens of San Diego lost their NFL team, as the San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles, leaving their fans without a football team to cheer for.  One of those fans was Scott Mortland…a huge Chargers and Padres fan.  So, what did Scott do?  He went looking for a new team to embrace, and low and behold, he found the…

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Scott Mortland, a San Diego sports fan, embraces our city..not only for our Bombers and Jets, but for all the friends he’s made up here…by Scott Mortland and Chuck Duboff

IMG_0399

© Chuck Duboff

We as Winnipegers tend to have a very negative image of our city; it would seem that those who visit our city seem to have a greater appreciation for our hometown.  Recently Winnipeg Jets superstar Patrik Laine was quoted as saying that he loves our city, that “this is my city now”.  You could feel the sense of pride around the city knowing that this world class athlete has embraced us.

IMG_0395

Yet, he is not the only honorary Winnipeger to embrace our fair city.  Last year the citizens of San Diego lost their NFL team, as the San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles, leaving their fans without a football team to cheer for.  One of those fans was Scott Mortland…a huge Chargers and Padres fan.  So, what did Scott do?  He went looking for a new team to embrace, and low and behold, he found the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL  Along with his son Gregory, they flew up to Winnipeg to watch the Bombers and they became instant fans of the Blue!!  Later in the fall, Scott came back for a Bombers and Jets weekend; and that was the game in which the Jets hammered Pittsburgh!!  Not only had Scott found two new teams to cheer for, he had found many new friends…with Greg Mackling his personal tour guide and Winnipeg connection.

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I was fortunate to meet Scott at that Pittsburgh game and we have maintained an e-mail friendship.

Once again Scott will be traveling up to Winnipeg this weekend to watch our Jets take on New York and Washington.  I asked Scott if he would write a few words for his Winnipeg friends and the city of Winnipeg:

© Scott Mortland

I happened to find these pennants in my garage earlier this month, and given my upcoming trip to Winnipeg on Saturday, I just can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic…

You wouldn’t expect most kids from San Diego in the early 1970’s to be huge hockey fans.  Shoot, we had the beach next door, the deserts and mountains just an hour away and we had two major league teams in the Padres and Chargers.  Young teams, yes, but still the top level in sports.

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But, we also had the Gulls…

My love for hockey goes back decades.  Like many other San Diegans at the time, my parents, my brother Mark and I, first supported the Gulls of the Western Hockey League.  When my family moved to San Diego in 1969 from Tucson, Arizona, the league had seven franchises, including the Vancouver Canucks who jumped to the NHL the next season.  The four of us went to most games and I so fondly remember watching the great Willie O’Ree, the first black player to don a uniform in the NHL (Boston Bruins).  I treasure the game-worn jersey I still have of his.  Autographed, too!

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Scott and Willie O’Ree!!  What an awesome picture.

The Gulls were replaced by the Mariners of the WHA in 1974 and, of course, played the original Winnipeg Jets.  This change was bittersweet for most of us.  Yes, we were moving up in the hockey world, but…deep down, the dedicated hockey fans of our fine city truly prayed to get an NHL franchise some day…

 

Scott has made so many new friends in Winnipeg.

Well, here we are, some 40+ years later.  My life has found me embracing Winnipeg for many terrific reasons and this, of course, includes the Jets.  Frankly, I can talk sports all day long, but the friendships I have made in ‘The Peg’ are what I value most.  The icing on the cake, as the cliché goes, would be to celebrate with all of you when the Jets win their very first Stanley Cup!  Trust me, I’ll be there partying with all of you!

Indeed, life does take some interesting turns.  I am so happy the left hand turn I chose to take last year pointed me right in the direction of Winnipeg.

GO JETS GO!!!